Critical Hit with Drew Nordman

War never changes – console war that is.

With the Playstation 4 due out on November 15 and the Xbox-One following less than two weeks later, my excitement is not unlike that of a giddy child. You see, I’ve been playing video games since before I knew how to read, so it’s no surprise that I’d be so hyped with only a little over a month until the dawn of the next generation of consoles.

That being said, the video game landscape is a drastically different place today than it was when Microsoft launched its Xbox 360 (way) back in November of 2005.

With a year head-start on its competitors, the 360 dominated the console gaming universe for the majority of the usual eight-year cycle. Even with an epidemic of hardware failure and its pay-to-play online service (Xbox Live), the 360 looked to be the likely and seemingly automatic winner of this generation’s console war.

Over time, however, some grew disenfranchised with the 360’s unreliability and subscription-based online service. Others just wanted to see how the other half lived, so they turned to the Playstation 3.

Back in 2006, when the PS3 launched, only the most devout Sony fans believed that seven years later, the PS3 would catch up to Microsoft’s juggernaut. It was an uphill battle, yet despite being released an entire year later, the Playstation remained. Several changes in management, an (eventually) lower price point and a plethora of compelling exclusive games later, Sony won back the hearts and business of gamers world wide.

Strangely enough, Sony’s position respective to Microsoft has flip-flopped in the past few years, and the folks at Microsoft certainly aren’t doing themselves any favors in regard to this as of late. Since the latter’s reveal of the Xbox One – the company’s latest gaming machine – back in May, Microsoft has provided an uncertain approach to their product in regards to digital rights management, privacy and an overall emphasis on home entertainment over gaming.

Microsoft dubiously introduced a policy which would restrict the use of games to their owners (preventing one from lending their copy or buying used), and an overwhelming outcry from the gaming community resulted in the immediate reversal of the plan. The lack of commitment to a gamer’s interests – supposedly a core value of the company – served to further tarnish Microsoft’s brand.

On the other hand, Sony has offered nothing short of a solid and focused approach to its real audience – not a hypothetical mass of Windows 8-operating, Microsoft living-and-breathing consumers.

Sony knows this: gamers want games. So they’ve committed to delivering them, no strings attached. What’s more, the company that not too long ago was beaten down by a forward thinking competitor in Microsoft and the Xbox 360, is back on top and learning how to sell games to real, not imagined, audiences.

But the ironic role reversal doesn’t end there. The PS4 will be sold for $100 less than the Xbox One, and launches before it.

Sure, it’s far too early to tell who will come out victorious, but Sony is teaching a thing or two about persistence, dedication to an artistic medium and the gamers who make it all possible.

Drew Nordman loves geek culture. Rant with him on Twitter @Anomalous1

Published in Volume 68, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 2, 2013)

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